VolksWagen Polo 1.0 MPI
We’re behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s mintyfresh Polo 1.0-litre petrol iteration. Does it have what it takes to dominate the market?
Downsized with an Up!-sized 1.0-litre engine
WHEN THE POLO FIRST ARRIVED IN INDIA in 2010, it came with the option of a 1.2-litre three-pot petrol engine or a tasty 1.6-litre in-line four. Those days are long gone now. We’re living in the era of keto diets and Crossfit and even coworking spaces. Everything is becoming leaner, tighter, and more efficient; so why should cars be any different? The new Polo is one of the cars that have gone the downsizing route. It has received a new heart, one that runs on three cylinders and displaces 999 cubic centimetres. There are a few additional bits and bobs on the inside; however, visually, this Polo looks exactly as before.
While it has always been a smart-looking car, the Polo’s design looks a little dated compared to its more modern contemporaries, especially since it was considered one of the more inconspicuous designs even when it was first launched eight years ago. I do like the 16-inch alloy wheels on this top-end Highline Plus variant, though.
The interior, too, is familiar, although this variant does get an all-black treatment and two-tone beige and black seats. It also gets a front armrest and rear air-con vents, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and rain-sensing wipers. Features include a touchscreen infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink and Android Auto, and steering-mounted controls. However, in-built navigation, keyless go, and a reverse camera are still missing — you have to make do with proximity sensors when reversing instead. This is something that will work against the Polo because its rivals typically do come equipped with these features. On the flip-side, the Polo comes with cruise control, which is not a feature you typically see in cars belonging to this segment.
The cabin space is adequate and the inclusion of manual driver’s side seat height adjustment along with tilt and telescopic adjustment for the steering means you can get your position set up just so when behind the wheel. The big change,
though, is the small engine and the accompanying five-speed manual transmission. The 999-cc in-line three produces 76 PS at 6,200 rpm and 95 Nm from 3,000–4,300 rpm and is quieter than a church mouse wearing woolly socks when on idle and even at low revs. The sonic experience in the cabin is augmented by the decent level of sound damping and a surprisingly good speaker set-up which provides crisp and balanced playback. The engine doesn’t offer up the most excitement, though, with a 0-100 km/h time just shy of 20 seconds it is quite a bit slower than its rivals. A top speed of 150 km/h is up there with the rest, though.
The gearbox is smooth and shifts are slick, so repeated shifting in traffic won’t weigh on you and the Polo’s ride and handling are among its biggest highlights. Whether it comes to weaving through city traffic or tackling corners, the steering feels precise and the car planted. Even when absorbing the peaks and troughs of our tarmac, the car’s suspension does a great job. Another positive is the braking. Sharp, progressive, and communicative, the brakes are top-notch and with ABS and dual-front airbags as standard on top of the braking performance, the cabin of the new Polo is definitely a safe place to be in.
You’re looking at a price tag of Rs 7.43 lakh (ex-showroom) for this car and it offered us a fuel efficiency figure of 11.75 km/l overall. The Polo is a tidy little hatch that is safe and dynamically sound but lacks that oomph in terms of performance or features that its rivals offer. It isn’t the most efficient hatch in its segment either and, to be honest, the car is starting to show its senescence among the young bucks in its segment. There are a few things working in its favour, but for the most part, offerings in a similar price-bracket have a lot more kit and a bit more excitement, too; something that I, for one, am finding difficult to look past.
( Below) The cabin has an understated dual-tone theme
( Right) All important controls are integrated neatly into the door handle
( Above) The frugal 1.0 MPI petrol engine is the significant change
( Left) Rear knee room is a little tight